Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, a staple of local politics for more than 40 years, defeated Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor in the Republican primary for governor Tuesday, according to projections from the Associated Press.
Although he was better funded and had the state party endorsement, DeWine took nothing for granted in the bitter, personal campaign against Taylor.
He answered attacks with attacks, calling Taylor a slacker, and spending more than $4.9 million – precious resources that he’ll need to replenish for the general election fight. DeWine loaned his campaign $1-million while Taylor loaned her campaign $3-million.
DeWine’s win on Tuesday puts him closer to his long-time ambition of being Ohio governor.
DeWine will go up against Democrat Richard Cordray, the projected winner in that gubernatorial primary. It’ll be a rematch between the two men who ran against one another in the 2010 attorney general contest.
Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump tweeted congratulations to DeWine, saying he’ll be a great governor, focusing on health care and jobs.
DeWine, 71, grew up in Greene County, where his family owned a seed business. He has held elected office for most of the past 42 years: Greene County prosecutor, state senate, Congress, lieutenant governor, U.S. Senate and Ohio attorney general, his current job.
He married Frances Struewing, whom he met in the first grade, and the couple raised eight children — including Ohio Supreme Court Justice Pat DeWine. They have 23 grandchildren.
The race between DeWine and Taylor dominated the airwaves in recent months.
Taylor went on a “made tough” tour, pushing her conservative credentials while DeWine branded himself as a “rock solid conservative” and throwing shade at Taylor, calling her a slacker and using the phrase “lock her up.”
Taylor didn’t hesitate to punch back. At the Ohio GOP endorsement meeting, she labeled DeWine a career politician and even took a swipe at his wife Fran’s tradition of baking pies and handing out cookbooks.
She has said she won’t vote for DeWine in November.
Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper said in a written release: “Mike DeWine enters the general election badly damaged after a nasty, divisive primary race that forced him to run far to the right, embracing Trump and attacking Gov. John Kasich’s Medicaid expansion, which provides health coverage to 700,000 Ohioans. We look forward to contrasting DeWine — who has been at the center of the GOP culture of corruption in Columbus — with Cordray and Sutton’s record of fighting for Ohio’s working families.”
Ohio’s next governor faces daunting challenges: fixing a chronically under-funded unemployment compensation fund, working with public colleges and universities to help train future workers and produce graduates who aren’t swamped in debt, and addressing the opiate addiction crisis that killed more than 4,000 Ohioans in 2016.
DeWine has said that the workforce skills gap, education and the opiate crisis are intertwining issues that will take priority in his administration, particularly as they impact children.
“Our unfinished business is we got too many kids who are languishing out there for a number of reasons. If Ohio is to have a great future, which we believe it will, we have got to get more kids living up to their God-given potential. That’s our focus,” he has said.
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